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COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA v. RICHARD FIELD (07/03/80)

decided: July 3, 1980.

COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, APPELLANT,
v.
RICHARD FIELD



No. 80-1-31, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, Criminal Division, at CC7906073A, entered January 31, 1980, granting appellee's Motion to Dismiss Information.

COUNSEL

Robert E. Colville, Dist. Atty., Robert E. Eberhardt, Deputy Dist. Atty., Pittsburgh, James J. West, Deputy Atty. Gen., Wayne T. Scott, Deputy Atty. Gen., Harrisburg, for appellant.

John L. Doherty, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Eagen, C. J., and O'Brien, Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, and Kauffman, JJ. Flaherty, J., joins this opinion and files a concurring opinion. Eagen, C. J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Roberts

[ 490 Pa. Page 521]

OPINION OF THE COURT

We are again presented with a challenge to the constitutionality of section 3732 of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S. ยง 3732. Section 3732 defines "homicide by vehicle" as follows:

"Any person who unintentionally causes the death of another person while engaged in the violation of any law of this Commonwealth or municipal ordinance applying to the operation or use of a vehicle or to the regulation of traffic is guilty of homicide by vehicle, a misdemeanor of the first degree, when the violation is the cause of death."

This is a pre-trial appeal in which the Commonwealth seeks reversal of an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County holding this "homicide by vehicle" provision unconstitutionally vague. We reverse.

The victim, Edward Romano, was a cameraman for KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh. On September 9, 1979, Romano went to the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company (ARCO) terminal at 57th and Butler Streets in Pittsburgh to film picketing and other strike-related activity of ARCO employees. Romano began to film while standing in the center of Butler Street.

The court of common pleas had previously issued both an injunction against mass picketing and a writ of assistance. Deputy sheriffs and city police, at the scene to ensure passage of ARCO tractor-trailers, requested Romano to move from the center of Butler Street to the adjoining sidewalk. Romano did so and resumed filming.

Six ARCO vehicles then began to leave the terminal. As the vehicles departed, the passageway through the pickets and onto Butler Street continually narrowed as spectators and picketers, in numbers exceeding the court's order, crowded the terminal exit. The vehicles were not moving at an excessive speed.

By the time the driver of the last vehicle, appellee Richard Field, attempted to negotiate the ...


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